Thursday, June 6 2013
Four Maryland abortion clinics shut down and three doctors suspended for 'lax procedures' after patient dies in care of untrained worker
• Dr Iris Dominy has had her license suspended 'for allowing unlicensed staff to give patients drugs at Baltimore clinic'
• One of her patients, 38-year-old Maria Santiago, died after she was left alone with an untrained employee
• Dr Michael Basco and Dr Mansour Panah also suspended; said it was 'standard procedure' to administer drugs with no doctor present
• Clinics affiliated with Dr Steven Brigham, who has had his license suspended in five states and was once charged with murder
Four Maryland abortion clinics have been shut down and three doctors have had their licenses suspended after a patient died at one clinic and regulators say they found lax procedures at all four.
The clinics, run by Associates in OB/GYN Care, were shuttered last month after state regulators received a complaint about a patient receiving an abortion-inducing drug with no doctor present.
The patient, 38-year-old Maria Santiago, underwent the procedure on February 13 in Baltimore and was 'still very drowsy' when she was allegedly left in the care of an unlicensed medical assistant.
She suffered a cardiopulmonary arrest and died later at a hospital. Regulators said her doctor, Iris Dominy, had failed to use a defibrillator - which was later found to be broken.
Dominy is one of the three suspended doctors, according to the Maryland Board of Physicians. Two more, Drs. Michael Basco and Mansour Panah, have also had their licenses suspended.
Scene: Three doctors have had their licenses suspended after a patient died at an abortion clinic, located in this complex in Baltimore, in February after she was being watched by an untrained worker
The allegations appear in documents posted online by the state Office of Health Care Quality, which regulates the clinics - in Baltimore, Cheverly, Frederick and Silver Spring - and ordered them to close.
The clinics are affiliated with American Women's Services, a company controlled by Dr. Steven Brigham, a beleaguered abortionist whose license has been suspended or revoked in five states. He was at one point charged with murder for late-term abortions, but the charges were dropped.
Dominy lost her license because unlicensed employees at the clinic were dispensing drugs to patients, the regulators noted, not because of the patient's death.
Basco was on duty at the Baltimore clinic on May 4 when an unlicensed clinic employee performed an ultrasound on a patient and found that the woman was carrying more than one fetus.
The employee then gave the woman misoprostol, a drug that's used to induce abortions, according to the Maryland Board of Physicians.
The clinics are affiliated with Dr Steven Brigham, above, who has had his license suspended in five states
'LEFT ALONE TO DIE': THE DEATH OF MARIA SANTIAGO
The patient who died after visiting the Associates in OB/GYN Care in Baltimore on February 13 was 38-year old Maria Santiago.
Santiago was 12.5 weeks pregnant at the time of the abortion and her doctor, Iris Dominy told Maryland Department of Health inspectors that Santiago slept through her abortion.
The doctor then left the woman in the room with an unqualified worker, according to the inspector's report. The worker filled out paperwork as Santiago lay on the table. She later called for a second worker to help her move Santiago to the recovery area.
The second worker noticed Santiago was pale and not breathing, and they notified Dominy. No one at the clinic had current CPR certification, and there was no attempt to use a defibrillator, which was found to be broken.
Santiago's death certificate showed she died from Severe Pulminary Edema, Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, and Hypoxia Brain Injury. It is unknown how long she went without breathing. Inspectors found staff failed to provide proper post-anesthesia care and observation.
After the patient took the drug, Basco arrived and determined that the patient needed a surgical abortion because the multiple fetuses had made her uterus larger, the board said.
Basco told the patient she would have to go elsewhere for a surgical abortion, they said.
Basco and other staff told regulators it was standard procedure in the clinics for patients to be given misoprostol at 11 weeks or later, regardless of whether a doctor was present, the board wrote.
Panah, the medical director of the clinics, was responsible for patient care at the time of Santiago's death.
He previously had his license suspended by the board in 1988 for sexual contact with three patients and again in 1995 for sexual conduct with another patient.
In 2011, he was placed on two years of probation by the board for failing to meet appropriate standards for delivery of quality medical and surgical care.
Bardos, who also represents Panah, said the allegations related to wrongdoing at the abortion clinics do not involve his client. He said the previous sexual contact cases 'involved kisses'.
Marc Cohen, the attorney for Dominy, said that most of the allegations were broad and do not directly involve his client, and that the patient's death at the Baltimore clinic was not her fault.
He said the allegation that unlicensed workers administered drugs on her watch was false.
'She's a well-trained, well-qualified and well-experienced doctor,' Cohen said. 'There just appears to be something that happened to that particular patient, but there wasn't anything wrong with the procedure as far as we know.'
Lax procedures: The doctors and other clinic employees said it was standard procedure for patients to receive abortion-inducing drugs, like those pictured, whether a doctor was present or not
A hearing on the suspensions of the doctors' licenses is scheduled for next Wednesday.
Bardos has requested a hearing before an administrative law judge on the closure of the clinics. That hearing has not yet been scheduled, he said.
Richard Bardos, an attorney who represents Associates in OB/GYN Care, said Dr Steve Brigham is not the owner of the clinics or the LLC. He declined to identify the owners.
But Vicki Saporta, president of the National Abortion Federation, or NAF, which represents abortion providers, said it was common knowledge among providers that the Maryland clinics belong to him.
'It's not surprising that his four Maryland clinics have been suspended,' Saporta said. 'We have been an advocate for his substandard clinics being shut down wherever they operate in the country.'